By Andrew Macey

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They typical song-and-dance when it comes to tradeshows is as follows. You reserve a booth at the conference, where you and a small handful of colleagues attend with the high hopes of drumming up new business. Traditionally, there is little announcement beforehand that you will be exhibiting, except maybe a short email to existing prospects that may also be attending.  While at the show, there is often a demo of your product of service being shown at the booth, where business cards are being collected or barcodes on nametags are being scanned.  Afterwards, the team returns to the office to email and/or call the list of contacts generated.  Does this sound familiar? Although this does result in a list of new, slightly interested prospects, it is hardly optimized. 

Why Traditional Trade Show Marketing is Broken

1. No one knows you are attending

Because an announcement to your audience isn't always sent out, nobody knows you are attending.  There are literally hundreds of exhibitors at these shows and often, attendees try to plan their days beforehand.  This is to make sure they have a chance to speak to those that interest them. They can't if they don't know you are going to be there.  

2. No one loves your company as much as you do

Traditional trade show marketing tactics teach us to prepare a pitch, sell people at the trade show, and get leads! But, this is broken. Why? During the show, things are moving at top speed.  Often, passersby do not have the time to stop and watch an entire demo and hear the canned spiel about what sets you apart.  Although this is valuable, it’s important to give attendees options and provide them information that most interests them.

3. The follow up after a trade show is a nightmare

Many attendees are receiving several product-centric emails from the trade show exhibitors they met, or gave their business card to. It's tought to set yourself apart. What is needed is a way of optimizing each step of this process to ensure high-quality leads and overall great return from tradeshow attendance.

Here's How Inbound Marketing Can Fix It

Inbound marketing attracts quality leads through a variety of different channels.  When preparing for a tradeshow, it is important to utilize many communication methods to spread your messaging wide.  Prospects consume information based on their preferences.  For some, social media is where they turn to stay in the know, whereas others subscribe to blogs or email lists. Being vocal across these platforms will ensure you are reaching your target audience effectively.

Rather than seeing the tradeshow as one marketing event, it is best to view it as a full campaign.  Just as one launches a new ebook, there are offers, key components, and significant planning involved.  Tradeshows are no different.  An effective way of laying out this campaign is to break it down into three distinct parts: before, during, and after.  Taking time to prepare for the show, build out all necessary pieces and make sure everything is connected will undoubtedly start you off on the right foot for when the show begins. 

Are you using inbound tactics to improve your trade show marketing ROI? Let us know by tweeting us at @smartbugmedia.

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Andrew Macey

About the author

Andrew Macey is a HubSpot alumni and Senior Consultant at SmartBug Media. He has more than 5 years experience in inbound marketing and is a graduate of the University of Vermont. He is excited to share his knowledge with you! Read more articles by Andrew Macey.

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